Cordillera RDC, solons to strengthen ties

The CAR Regional Development Council and the region’s Representatives vowed to work closely together for the funding of the Regional Development Investment Program (RDIP), a companion document of the Regional Development Plan 2014-2016 Midterm Update. This surfaced during the Advisory Committee (AdCom) meeting last October 29 at the House of Representatives in Quezon City.

“We have to strengthen the symbiosis of the Regional Development Council (RDC) and the Cordillera representatives,” Ifugao Representative Teodoro Baguilat said.

Ifugao Governor Denis Habawel prompted the discussion when he inquired about what the RDC can do for the RDIP.

RDC Vice-Chairperson Milagros Rimando and NEDA Regional Director conveyed that the RDC endorses the RDIP for Government funding, for Official Development Assistance (ODA) or for Public Private Partnership (PPP). Moreover, for special big ticket projects requiring RDC endorsements, the NEDA Technical Secretariat, reviews and evaluates proposals based on their impact and contribution to the region’s development thrust, and shepherds these all the way to completion. On the other hand, to facilitate project preparation, the RDC through the NEDA secretariat likewise provides technical assistance to local government units and regional line agencies through the conduct of feasibility studies and in the preparation of other project-related documents. RD Rimando also mentioned that there were instances in the past (e.g. Apayao National Roads) when the RDC, together with the Congressmen, visited government agency heads such as the DPWH to allocate additional funding for the region’s priorities.

For this, Kalinga Congressmen Manuel Agyao emphasized the importance of the RDC and Congress working hand in hand with the national line agencies to secure more funds for Cordillera projects.

On the CAR’s share to the National Budget, the DBM reported that the budget for the region has been increasing since 2010.

“Kung gusto natin, kaya naman pala,” said Ifugao Governor Denis Habawel.

Congressman Baguilat reiterated that an enhanced coordination between the CAR Solons and the RDC can bring about increase in the budget for the region. He emphasized that it is the duty of the Congressmen to lobby for additional funds to finance the region’s priorities. The sin tax, he cited, should be explored as potential source for project funding.

Besides teamwork in the lobbying of funds, the AdCom agreed that project proposals must be well-crafted and supported with documents as required by funding institutions. This was expressed in light of the non-programming of tourism roads proposed in Abra, Kalinga and Apayao. For this, they remarked, “we have to do it now.”

Presided over by RDC Chair, Abra Governor Eustaquio Bersamin, the Advisory Committee of the RDC is composed of CAR Representatives, the Governors, Baguio City Mayor and the Chairs of the RDC Sectoral Committee Representatives with NEDA-CAR serving as its technical secretariat.#